It’s time to shine the Vinyl Spotlight! Every now and then on Paloozapalooza, I like to focus on a random LP from my collection. This week, we have:
Labyrinth: The Original Soundtrack (1986)
Jim Henson and George Lucas collaborated on a movie called “Labyrinth” in 1986, and it’s about as bizarre as you might imagine. David Bowie kidnaps Jennifer Connelly’s baby brother, a curmudgeon dwarf named Hoggle kills fairies for fun, and there’s a farting swamp known as the Bog of Eternal Stench.
I’m not sure if “Labyrinth”is legitimately “good” or not; like “The Neverending Story” or “Hook,” I watched it nonstop when I was younger and basically have it memorized now. But what I am sure about is that the soundtrack features several Bowie originals, and listening for just a few minutes always puts a big smile on my face.
The “Labyrinth” soundtrack includes Trevor Jones’ synth-heavy score and a handful of Bowie originals from the film. The score is enjoyable enough for what it is, but when you add those Bowie tracks, this instantly becomes a soundtrack worth owning.
“Underground,” for instance, would have been a highlight of any of Bowie’s albums from that era. The reverb-heavy drums, the full choir, the thumping bass—it’s unmistakably Bowie, unmistakably 80s, and unmistakably awesome. It also sounds a lot like Billy Joel … but maybe I’m just losing my mind.
And then, of course, there’s “Magic Dance,” the song that any fan of the movie can probably sing the word to in a moment’s notice. Dance, magic, dance, Bowie shouts with glee, jump, magic, jump! I’ve probably heard this song a million times, but I still think it’s fun when I listen to it now.
“Within You,” the soundtrack’s most menacing song, also deserves some love. It’s not quite as exciting as some of the other songs here, but it’s probably Bowie’s strongest performance in the whole movie. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for you, Bowie sings. I move the stars for no one. You’ve run so long, you’ve run so far. Your eyes can be so cruel! Just as I can be so cruel!
“Labyrinth” is a weird movie full of weird characters doing weird things, but perhaps nothing is more strange than when a bunch of orange creatures start to dance around, sing a song, and try to tear off Connelly’s young head. Bowie wrote that song as well, even though he doesn’t sing it in the film, and it’s yet another highlight of this stranger than strange album.
Oh, and I should give Jones his due—by far my favorite piece from the movie’s score is “Thirteen O’Clock,” which perfectly captures that evil-but-not-too-evil vibe that Henson seems to turn to a lot in “Labyrinth.” Some of the score might be a bit forgettable, but this is a song that will stick with you for sure.
I was lucky enough to score this soundtrack on vinyl a year or two before Bowie tragically passed away earlier this year. It’s probably much more rare now, and I would imagine a lot of people who have a copy are trying to flip it now for insane amounts. But I’ll be keeping my copy, thank you very much.